Canadian and American Email Regulation Differences
Think the U.S. CAN-SPAM laws are thorny? Check out CASL, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law. These maple syrup rules have some MAJOR sticking points.
Don’t hit the wall when email marketing to Canadians
Opt-out (CAN-SPAM) vs. Opt-in (CASL)
American CAN-SPAM rules came first in 2003. Canada is the last of the G-8 countries to enact legislation to counteract spam. Canada just implemented CASL last year, on July 1, 2014.
CAN-SPAM focuses solely on email. Canada’s law is more comprehensive, banning various IT-related communications, including sending commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to an electronic address without consent. CASL covers more than email; it deals with instant messaging, social networking, spyware, pharming, and other online spamming methods.
CAN-SPAM: only covers email
CASL: covers more stuff such as email spyware, pharming, and other online spamming methods
Again, CAN-SPAM contrasts with Canada’s CASL in that CAN-SPAM regulations apply only to sending email. CASL regulations apply to ALL online messaging systems such as email, SMS, IM, social media and so on. In short, if you are marketing to Canadians you had better stay alert.
The core difference between the U.S. CAN-SPAM law and Canada’s CASL is actually emblematic of the big stereo-typical difference between American and Canadian culture. It’s the idea that America is all about BUSINESS. Whereas Canada is all about POLITENESS.
It’s Gordon Gekko vs. Alex Trebek. Donald Trump vs. Dudley Do-Right. Rocky vs. Bullwinkle.
You cannot send commercial messages without permission, but you CAN send transactional messages or relationship-related messaging without permission. So the U.S. gives you a li’l wiggle room. Not so in her Majesty the Queen’s Canada!
The law doesn’t specifically define what a commercial message is (because how rude would that be?), but you cannot send ANY emails to a subscriber without first gaining his or her express consent. If you’re in a business relationship with a subscriber, you may send him or her emails without their consent, but ONLY FOR TWO YEARS. During that time, you must, again, gain express consent to send emails to him or her.
You are ALLOWED to send unsolicited commercial email. USA! USA! USA! Now THAT’S freedom. Not so for the Kanucks.
No matter the amount of commercial content in the email, you CANNOT SEND it without first gaining a subscriber’s permission. You’ve got to button-up your consent process to market to the frozen north. Plain and simple.
CAN-SPAM requires advertisements be marked clearly as such. The unsubscribe link should be be easy to find and easy to use. Also, you have to provide a valid physical address or post-office box so that email recipients can send snail mail unsub requests if they prefer.
CASL is way more intensive. Canadian law requires the sender to disclose not only advertiser info but also the list owner’s info. The list owner and the advertiser share equal weight in terms of revealing how to fully unsubscribe from each as well as the details on how the sender got the recipient’s digital media address.
And to really seal the deal, look at the difference in rules about list building:
You can *technically* email ANYONE without his or her written permission (but, good luck staying on any ESP doing that). CAN-SPAM assumes consent until the recipient revokes it. If someone on your list opts-out, you must honor it within a set period of time.
Every Canadian email address on your list must have opted in.
Americans are more rough and tumble compared to Canadians. Don’t forget to lift your pinky finger as you hit the “send” key to Montreal, my lovelies!